In a bit of surprise announcement today, Matt Niskanen has revealed that he will retire from the NHL. Like many have asked in relation to the Dustin Byfuglien situation – some are asking why Niskanen today?
Elliotte Friedman note on Monday:
Matt Niskanen has informed PHI that he will retire. Team asked him to take some time and think about it, he did and stayed with that decision. The Flyers are working on re-signing Justin Braun, do not want to lose two critical members of the PK
Pierre LeBrun reported the organization reached out to Niskanen just to make sure. He noted: “Flyers, I believe, spoke with Niskanen again today to make sure he was definite in his decision. Which it looks like he is. Niskanen has also let his teammates know.”
Niskanen was originally drafted by the Dallas Stars with the 28th overall selection during the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. A native of Virginia, Minnesota Niskanen attended Minnesota-Duluth after being drafted by the Flyers. Niskanen would only spend two years with the Bulldogs of Duluth before jumping into the NHL fray.
Since that time, Niskanen has logged 949 NHL games with four different teams including the Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals (Stanley Cup, 2018) and most recently a member of the Philadelphia Flyers this past season. An apt offensive player from the back-end, Niskanen has tallied 72 goals and 284 assists (356) during his 13 NHL seasons. Again though, why retire 51 games shy of a ‘silver stick’ (1,000 NHL games)?
At 33-years-old, Niskanen would likely have a couple of more years left in his game. Contractually, Niskanen was supposed to be owed $5.75 million dollars in the 20/21 season. Of course, should Niskanen officially retire then he would effectively be walking away from the remaining dough on his contract. Nearly $6 million is a fair chunk of change to leave on the table.
Impact on Flyers
What happens to the Flyers should Niskanen retire? For one, they lose a top pairing, right-handed defenseman to offset lefty Ivan Provorov. However, the Flyers are also short on cap space, so it effectively opens some funds to allocate toward the free agent market. Before the Niskanen decision, the Flyers were looking at slightly under $3 million in cap space. If Niskanen is in fact done, then the cap room would move up to around $10 million.
Niskanen retiring would also temporarily hold up any further trade speculation around Shayne Gostisbehere. Since the Florida native set offensive career highs in 2018, Gostisbehere’s numbers have since trailed off. Many onlookers feel that the Flyers might be looking to move Gostisbehere and his $4.5 million annual salary that he is owed through the 2022/23 season.
Whatever the reason, well wishes to Matt Niskanen on a great NHL career.
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